Rough spots in the plotting drag down picture-book author Becker’s debut for teens.

THE STELLOW PROJECT

A pair of teenagers uncovers familial secrets after environmental terrorists wreak havoc on New York City. 

As a killer storm approaches Manhattan, Lilah Stellow's father send her and her sister, Flori, to the family's cabin upstate, promising to meet them there. Days pass, and her father never arrives, leaving the girls with nothing to hide behind when a mysterious agency takes them to a scientific compound that is isolated from the rest of the world and promises answers to their father's whereabouts. On this reserve, Lilah grows close to Daniel, the son of her father's greatest scientific rival. Together, the two teens dig into their parents' mutual past and hope to find answers to questions that have plagued them all their lives. The ensuing story is reasonably exciting but is bogged down by the book's high page count. The plot doesn't kick into high gear until Page 74, forcing readers to plow through a circuitous, overpopulated setup. Once events are truly underway, the book improves. Lilah has a solid emotional journey, one that Becker illuminates well. Some of the mystery elements are less gracefully handled, and the obligatory-feeling romance is only mildly diverting, however.

Rough spots in the plotting drag down picture-book author Becker’s debut for teens. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4778-2935-6

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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